September 22, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Gotham”


GOTHAM:  Thursday 8PM on FOX

Coming off its most satisfying season to date, the first where it seemed to have some control over its sprawl, GOTHAM has been given a new timeslot on Thursdays for its 4th season, and the subtitle “A Dark Knight.”  It is indeed creeping ever closer to the territory of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, as its young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) has taken to haunting the roofs of Gotham City wearing a mask and a long dark coat that looks very like a cape, ready to stop crime.  The show’s Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), as well, has begun her journey from troublemaking teen to full-fledged Catwoman.

The major change in Gotham City since we took our leave from Season 3 was that the always enterprising Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) entered into a deal with the city’s mayor and police chief, giving him control over the city’s crime, with exclusive rights to license the participants and take a cut, in exchange for keeping the number of crimes down to half the unregulated total.  Most of Gotham was OK with this arrangement, including the morally flexible police Captain Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue).  The only two hold-outs were young Bruce and Bullock’s closest friend on the force, ever-crusading Detective Jim Gordon (Ben Mackenzie)–along, of course, with Gotham’s independent criminal element, unwilling to tithe half their earnings to Penguin.  By the end of the season premiere, written by Executive Producer John Stephens and directed by Danny Cannon, the licensing system was already in severe disrepair.

The other early-season plot thread involved the return of Jonathan Crane (Charlie Tahan) AKA The Scarecrow, whose father had perfected a drug that infected all who were sprayed with it–including Jonathan–with nightmarish visions of their deepest fears.  (The same character was played by Cillian Murphy in Nolan’s trilogy.)

Gotham has never lacked for villains, and Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) spent the episode frozen solid, as Penguin had left him in Season 3, while Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) was reported to be MIA, and there was no sign of Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddiq).  Also missing from the premiere:  Jim’s one-time love, sometimes adversary Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin), still listed as a series regular.

The series continues to have the visual virtues it’s had from the start, all looming sets and gothic film noir CG landscapes.  Last season it added the ability to balance its many storylines with some coherence and pace, marking it as one of the more effective of the many comic book series on TV.  Gotham has its work cut out for it this season, since its new Thursday competition beginning next week will include Thursday Night Football and Grey’s Anatomy, and eventually The Big Bang Theory.  It’s also being relied upon as the lead-in to The Orville, FOX’s most high-profile fall premiere.  Its super powers may not be that strong, especially since it’s an expensive show with only moderate ratings, and one owned by Warners rather than the network’s in-house studio.  But its quality is as solid as it’s ever been, and that should help.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."